They were said to be her forte. And fresh off her gynmastics all-around gold victories in the all-around and the team competitions, Gabby Douglas had the gold for the uneven bars all but wrapped up. That is, if you believe all the talk that led up to this morning’s event. But when there are team competitions and individual competitions, and heat after heat after heat, athletes can sometimes lose steam. They’re simply tired. And that’s what happened with Douglas as she faced the bars.
Gabby Douglas’ routine came just after that of Russia’s Aliya Mustafina. Mustafina performed brilliantly, with twist after twist and perfectly bouncing from bar to bar, Mustafina was nothing but grace and form. But it was her dismount that left the judges most impressed, and contributed to her score of 16.133. After that dismount, it was clear that Beth Tweddle, of Great Britain and with a score of 16.916 would be knocked down to at least third; after Mustafina and China’s He Kexin, who scored 15.933 with a nearly perfect routine.
And still, Gabby Douglas had yet to take the bars.
Douglas was saved for last, but even as she stepped up to the mat, something was wrong. It just seemed ‘off.’ She still looked confident, yet seemed somewhat unfocused as she waved to the crowd just before taking off down the mat. Was it sheer focus? Or was Douglas getting tired?
It was hard to tell, especially as she first leapt up, gaining her usual impossible heights and seemingly perfect in form. But just seconds into a routine that’s only a minute or so long, Douglas missed a pirouette, coming down on the wrong side of the bars. Had this been Day 2 of the Olympics, Douglas may have been able to recover. And though she did a pretty good job of covering up the mistake, and the rest of her bar performance was flawless, her dismount is really what cost her the most.
Taking a small step onto the mat, a glaring mistake in the judge’s eyes, was a much bigger error that being on the wrong side of the bars, and it was one she paid for. Posting a final score of 14.900, Douglas finished last in a competition of eight on the uneven bars.
After the event Douglas was quoted as saying, “I made a little mistake and I paid for it. You get toward the end of the Olympics and you get kind of drained.” She’ll have to rest up, though because she’s not done yet. She still has to take the balance beam on Tuesday.
But letting this one slip through her fingers might not be as bittersweet as it would be for some athletes. Gabby Douglas’ big Olympic moment came last Thursday, as she won the gold in the women’s all-around competition, and made history.